Discovering Your Mission Field
Part 2: To say my heart was “strangely warmed” is an understatement…
Thank you for coming back. I hope you’ve read through the first part of this blog post series and are seeing areas in your life where you are encouraged to “get out of the boat.” In this second installment, I would like to introduce two very important people in my life. Their stories are the reason why I continue to return to Haiti and have made this wonderful country another mission field in my life.
In my previous blog post, I shared some of the sights and sounds of my first trip, but I left out the one thing that all my fellow missionaries would share and that is the phrase, “Blanc, blanc gimme caunde.” It’s hard to type the accent, but the kids bellowing “white, white give me candy” took a minute to get use to. At the beginning of each trip, you almost feel like you’re in a parade. By the end, you think, “If I hear the word blanc ONE MORE TIME!”
During my first trip to Haiti – during those first few days, I remember teaching the kids how to play hop scotch in the street. As we were playing, a boy approached me and whispered, ‘blanc gimme caundy.’ And, I responded, “you give me candy!” This poor boy looked at me like I was crazy. I laughed and said, “ou pa t ‘di souple?” (You didn’t say please). He bashfully lowered his head and whispered, “Misses gimme candy souple?” I did and that’s how my friendship with Jonah began.
This sweet boy stuck to my side like glue for the rest of the week. He followed us on his bike everywhere we went. One day we drove miles out to a paint a school and Jonah was behind us the entire way. He held my paint can for six hours that day. We shared lunch with him and at the end of the day I paid him $2; he burst into tears and I was very confused. You see, he took home more money that day than his mom made in a week. At the end of the week, I visited his house and met his mother. I brought bags of snacks, rice and beans as gifts. I told her what a hard working and honest son she had. She was so proud of her son, and Jonah was proud to give snacks to his siblings.
The day we left we were waiting at the tiny “airport” (remember, it resembles a goat field) and Jonah was crying. He was heartbroken to see us leave. There was a student with me who was trying to cheer him up by playing hand slapping games. They sat on the ground across from one other with their feet sole to sole. My student realized they wore the same size shoe. She then did something I pray I will never forget, SHE TOOK OFF HER BRAND NEW NIKES and handed them to Jonah! I burst in heaving sobs. She fished a pair of sandals from her luggage and Jonah asked for a bag to store the shoes in. We gave him a Walmart sack. He didn’t want to get them dirty; he told us those would be his school and church shoes.
Before we knew it, our plane had landed with a whole new set of missionaries on it. Our Haitian friends escorted them onto trucks so that they could begin their mission work. We then boarded the plane to the States, and there sat Jonah, sitting on his bike with his head on his arms sobbing into his handle bars. My heart was not prepared. My chest was heavy the entire flight home.
That was 2013; Jonah turns 17 next month. Every year, I bring him a new pair of tennis shoes. When I see him, he practices the new English words he’s learned and I practice my Creole.
We walk down the streets together describing the sights and sounds using our new languages. Our relationship has allowed each of us the opportunity to learn from one another and at the same time, to teach one another. I value it deeply. Jonah no longer cries when I leave. He’s learned that when I say “see you later” I mean what I say. That is why I go back.
Can you stay with me a little longer? This next story is very important.
Last year we took our first FUMC Bentonville team to Pignon. I was elated. We worked hard, played hard and loved harder. One day, I took a small group to my friend Tonton’s orphanage, which was located on a field. We took photos of the children to help them get sponsors and delivered snacks and school supplies. It was now the later part of the day, and dinner time was fast approaching. I began to gather the group to leave in an effort to not delay dinner.
However, Tonton insisted that I see his orphanage. I was confused, our language barrier made it difficult for me to understand what he asking of me. Even after insisting that we were running late and had no time left, I agreed to drive by what I thought was land and a house he had purchased to one day become an actual orphanage.
We drove up to a small stick and mud home – a typical countryside Haitian house and I told Tonton it looked great, so let’s go! Nope. He insisted that I go inside. I was beyond flustered. I told the group to stay in the truck and I’d be right back, we walked to the back of the home where I saw an 86 year old woman sitting on the ground.
I was confused and she was SHOCKED! Turns out she had lived all 86 years and never seen a blanc. I soon realized she was an orphan. Through our language barrier, Tonton wasn’t able to describe an adult who had no family left to care for her.
What was I supposed to do? I had nothing left to give her, and she was talking a lot and waving her arms like crazy. Turns out she was thanking God for sending her an “angel”, but what is an angel if they have nothing to give? I quickly realized angels are messengers and that we should pray. So, we sat with her and I prayed and Tonton translated. She touched my head and then my heart and looked deep into my eyes. She had piercing blue eyes (a rarity among Haitians). I could feel the heaviness on my chest again. She quickly became my orphan grandma. I got in the truck and rode back in silence, overwhelmed with this responsibility God had entrusted me.
That night, I shared what the day had brought with the team. Still not knowing where God really needed us in grandma’s story. So, the next day we took 13 blancs, Tonton, and another translator over to grandma’s house. We washed her feet and gave her shoes. She was so happy she got up and danced and proclaimed we were having a party at her house. She had her grandma moment with each team member. Everyone got a pat on the head and a hug. We brought her enough food to last a month and as many things we could gather from our belongings to help make her life more comfortable.
Our trip to grandma’s was the highlight of the week for many of us. For months following the 2016 trip I prayed, “God, why did you bring me to grandma’s? What am I supposed to do?”
God’ plan was much bigger than I could have ever imagined, isn’t that always the case? Please, come back for part 3 and the summation of “Discovering Your Mission Field.”
Brooke Crumpler, Youth Director